Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Wrap Up.

Blogging has been increasingly further from my mind this year, and I regret to say I haven't but a handful of posts in 2014. Not for a lack of topics! Hardly! I'm just kind of been eehh and mmehhh about writing about it. So a quick recap, mostly for posterity and journaling's sake.
Jan-March: Began 2014 wide-eyed and optimistic, as I do each year. Snow, some great weekends away, trip to Space Camp, found out I was pregnant in February, basked in the excitement and shivered in fear for all of March.
Late Spring: miscarriage, leave of absence from work, basic survival for a while. Ran my first 5K and lost 30 pounds by eating well and working out. Discovered a love of baked kale and protein smoothies.
Summer: Left my awesome job at MICS, soaked up the sun on any lake, river, or ocean within a day's drive, vacationed in Florida, played switcharoo schools and accepted my current position as an English teacher for gifted/talented students at the best school in the county, found out how much I liked running in the rain. 
Fall: BUSY! Celebrated Mak's 10th (Ah!) birthday, took part in all our cinnamon-season traditions like pumpkin patch visiting and carving, mountain trips for apples and seeing the leaves, etc. We ate lots of salted caramel things, went to the fair, and spent Saturday mornings on the soccer field. ;) We were crazy busy this year with Jake's new internship at the Early College High School and my new position, but it was exceedingly cool to get to car pool and not sit in the afternoon exodus of traffic from Charlotte and work 10 minutes from home and 3 minutes from my daughter, especially convenient that one day when a kid puked on her. We made a trip to Carowinds (theme parks are DISGUSTING in the summer, but kinda fun and refreshing on crisp fall days, just saying). I joined a wonderful ladies group at church, which has been good, though I'm starting to feel stagnant again.  I think it's just me, though, and a funk I've been in because of the holidays. I digress. Anyways.  Fall. We got a Nespresso machine, deepened our love of french pressed coffee, and discovered the wonders of a red eye. We went to a lovely wedding of an old friend and got a great weekend away together. Unfortunately, this is the time of year I most neglect in my blogging just out of sheer lack of time, but it also tends to be a very transformative season for us. This fall, I also developed a new friendship (winking at you, Jalisa!), read a ton of thrillers and suspense novels (my newest genre), practiced learning the guitar (that was fleeting), and found some new music to obsess over (Iron & Wine, Ray LaMontage, Bon Iver, Gregory Alan Isokov...) So, again, blogging was very sidelined.
Winter: Jake and I really delve into our passion for coffee, and got a manual espresso machine. I pull a decent shot, and I can get a decent micro-foam. We're more and more convinced we WILL open a coffee shop some day (SOON?) and I can live out my barista dreams. I took my mom to The Southern Season in Chapel Hill for a cooking class for her birthday and we had a blast. I also went through a few weeks of obsessively cooking French recipes and watching old episodes of Julia Child on Youtube. Christmas parties, traditons, and other annual happenings kept us busy. Makinzy and I spent an entire day together running last minute Christmas errands together and she was absolutely amazing all day. Like a miniature BFF. I didn't have to fuss, argue, discipline, or anything. We have days like that sometimes, and I cherish them. There's a definite ebb and flow to our relationships. Somedays I'm banging my head against the wall, and others, I'm counting each freckle and kissing them all. That's totally normal parenting life, though, so I hear. We bought new living room furniture, cleaned out Mak's room (well, Jake did- the guy loves to purge as much as the kid loves to hord), and gave and received some great gifts and spent lots of good time together. Recently, Jake and I did this really fun coffee shop crawl and had so much deliciousness we ended up with the jitters, which for us 12 cups a day-ers, takes an obscene amount of caffeine. I even got asked to come behind the counter and pull a shot on a GORGEOUS machine with a lever and pulled a fairly decent shot for a newb. It was fun.

So we're finally in that hoodies and slippers twilight zone between Christmas and New Years which is the only time of year when it's totally acceptable to vege on the couch with quilts and a bag of chips (at least ours are now dried veggies or nuts and not just Lay's) and scroll through Twitter then cuddle together, and the kiddo is either playing or reading or getting some screen time herself and we're all just happy and hanging out and resting. I'm still banging around the tangible, doable, sharable resolutions, and I'll have to come back and write them down sometime soon. Jake and I have been doing resolutions together for years, and though they aren't popular to do, we have had a lot of success with writing resolutions together and coming up with actionable items that help us try new things, improve our health, and grow as Christians and as humans. It works for us.

So there's the wrap up of 2014. I'll be back to share my resolutions, one of which might need to blog more!

PS. I almost accidentally deleted this post write after I wrote it because of the ancient username and account I still have this thing on. Considering the age of this blog (2007!?), I wonder if 2015 should begin with something new??? 

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Adventures, always.


I think I've drafted this post about ten times in random five minute windows only to delete them, lose them, or forget them. I've not posted since July and there's no good reason other than filling up my time with other things. Good things! New jobs, some good books, and a whole lot of running, mainly. 

So, to update.
On a whim that it was time to do something different, I did not accept a contract for another year at my school on the lake, where I worked under the best boss ever with the easiest kids ever. Crazy, right. It just felt like it was the right time. There were some administrative and curricular changes, and more so than that, I was tired of the drive and the disconnect. So I applied elsewhere, and by June was offered a job at a closer charter school that had just got started. The school I wanted had filled positions from within the county, and so I went with my second choice. I signed a contract in July and fast forward to August and I had the whole back to school freakout. So much to buy and do and plan and set up. Anyways, the school I had wanted from the get go had a last minute opening (due to a last minute decision to retire) and at first I thought it was just too late for me, but after prayer and realizing that though I really liked everyone there, I just wasn't feeling peace about my new school, I applied on a Sunday evening. By Monday morning I had an interview and subsequently a new job, just a week before kids. My other school graciously accepted my resignation, and there were no negative feelings there. It was kinda bittersweet. The peace and purpose found me, and I landed in my dream job. I have a huge room, I have amazing students, a fantastic schedule, easy commute, and technology coming out my ears. It also made sense logistically and financially. I have plenty of resources, lots of freedom, and it's easy on our family. Not to mention we're just two weeks in and I have already cried over how blessed I am to know and love my kiddos, specifically one young lady who I am determined to make a difference in, who has already inspired me. I have goofy boys who make me laugh and quiet souls who I want to know more of. I have quirky ones and chatty ones and happy ones. I have great students. 

I'm down thirty pounds, as well, I didn't read as much this summer, nor did I blog or cook, mostly due to walking and running so much. I can say my life is so much healthier than it used to be. I drink kale juice and I'm known as the runner by  folks I run into in the grocery store, I kid you not. I wear tennis shoes as much if not more than heels or flip flops, and I wear sweat wicking clothes not just because of the Carolina heat. It's crazy. But I'm really liking the new me, and I'm excited to see where this leads. We've been so active this summer, from running the backside trail and the lake path at Crowders Mountain, climbing South Mountain and more recently Stone Mountain (NC) over Labor Day weekend. It's been a lot if work but also a lot of fun. 

We also celebrated Mak's tenth birthday. We had her party at the Y pool last weekend though her birthday isn't actually until this week. I still can't believe this baby girl has hit the double digits. She's such a mess, and she is truly a blessing. School has started off well for her, and I'm really hoping it continues. She likes her teacher, and we hope she pushes her to not get lazy with her work. The teacher has a background in reading instruction, which is where Mak needs constant reinforcement. 4th grade could be an excellent year for her, though at the exact same time, I die a little seeing her become so big and grown and independent. 

So that's life. It's hot September days of soccer practice, homework and lesson plans, figuring out what's for dinner and how much time do we have to squeeze in a workout. Hectic, yeah, but also quite happy. 
Season four of soccer!
Healthy and happy.
Ten years old.
Adventures, always.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Choose Joy

I didn’t sleep well last night, and I couldn’t really put a finger on why I was in strange mood. Not necessarily mad or upset, just feeling down.  Despite not sleeping so great, I got up earlier than I had to for church and was ready ahead of schedule with some time to kill. I clicked over to Pinterest to peruse and I saw this graphic. It was cute.


Then I read it. Twice. And it hit me. Aloud, I said, “You’re so wrong” to my computer screen.
Afterwards, I got Mak ready and we left for church.

Then, in Sunday School, we talked about hope, and Elizabeth, a sweet lady in my class and dear friend read from 1 Peter 1:6: In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials… and we talked about hope in the midst of cancer, accidents, loss, grief, how our time here is but a fraction of a moment, and sometimes that hope gets lost in our humanity. We forget that like a precious metal, strife refines us and purifies us. (1:7) These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  And that sometimes, maybe even our whole life, we might not be “happy.” Life doesn’t always work that way. Scroll through the local news and you’ll see a whole lot of unhappy. If that’s the purpose of life… to be happy… isn’t the whole world doing an awfully bad job at living? Then, in 1 Peter 1:8- Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. Read that last word again. JOY. 

The reason for my funk lately is grief. I’m okay, but every once in a while, my womb aches. I feel sick as a smile at a little one, comparing it’s age to where my babies would be today. I try to fight it, but sometimes a bitter taste rolls up into my mouth, and I get into one of those moods where I can’t exactly explain what’s wrong, something just is. And sometimes, it happens so fast I don't even realize what's wrong with me. 
I didn’t put all of this into cohesive thought until a new family visiting this morning in church chose out of an entire empty auditorium to sit directly in front of me so that tiny infant girl they brought would lay over their shoulder and look at me, reminding me of this. When I groaned (inwardly) as they sat down, that same taste, that same ache moved through me and that’s when I realized my own unhappiness was the ever present grief I so often try to forget. 

As I came to this realization, Brother Chip began the message, leading us through and introduction to 1 John, which will be the focus of the next few week’s sermons. As he began, he outlined John’s purpose to writing to the church at Ephesus, and he read  1 John 1:3 and 4- We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our/your joy complete. 
His sermon to on four points- that John wrote with clarity and simplicity to remind his church of 1) the JOY that comes from fellowship with Christ, 2) we are called to holiness- that is to be set a part, 3) that we must not waver from the true doctrine of the gospel, and 4) to help us find assurance in our salvation. 

I kept rereading that first point- JOY, and then Brother Chip share a quote from Kay Warren’s book Choose Joy. “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things…” Brother Chip said sorrow and happiness can’t run parallel, but joy and sorrow can. At the time, I didn’t realize she was Rick Warren’s wife, and boy, she can testify to sorrow. 

Sorrow is the angst. It’s the smile that’s not really a smile that leads my husband to ask if I’m okay, and I say, yeah, because I am, aren’t I? I thought I was. I’m trying to be. I’m not really. 
You see, sorrow and happiness don’t run together. 

But joy…

“Joy cannot be manipulated by the actions of puny human beings. It is not dependent on the amount of sadness or suffering or difficulties you endure. Joy cannot be held hostage to fear, pain, anger, disappointment, sadness, or grief…” (Kay Warren)

This is that hope we talked about in Sunday School. The hope that this life isn’t all there is.

“During our lifetime, we “stand on the tracks” looking for signs of Jesus Christ’s return…One day in the brightness of His coming we will meet Him face to face. And when we do, the tracks of joy and sorrow will merge. The sorrow will disappear forever,and only joy will remain. And everything will make perfect sense.” (Warren)

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21


I’m sure the Dahli Lama meant well, and I know he said some pretty wise things in his years. But he got it wrong when he said that the purpose in life was to be happy. It’s to love Him. This world we live in is broken and full of sorrow, but those of us who know Him know joy, joy that comes from the peace within the promise that this world isn’t all we have, and that though I won’t know all the details, He does. He’s in control, and He’s got me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Feminist Me


I don’t usually go for political or even social issues as blog topics, but today I got HOT and this just exploded out of me. 
As those of you who are friends with me on Facebook read today in my little tyraid on country music. J and I played a radio while we were camping last week and while listening to a country station, we were SHOCKED at how every single song mentioned beer, “girls” (never women or ladies) in painted on, cut off, skin tight revealing clothing, back roads, moonlight, and getting some action. Country music today makes women from the south seem like ignorant party girls who are good for nothing but a good show and a good time. An article I read today put a name on this genre of music as bro-country. It’s despicable, objectifying, and derogatory. And frankly, it’s just trashy. Women are so much more. 

Despite my feelings towards today’s country music scene, as I said on Facebook when I shared the article, I do not consider myself a “feminist,” at least not by today’s connotation of that term. Why not?
I believe:
-Wives should submit to their husbands as the Bible teaches. That doesn’t make me weak, it empowers me and makes me strong, because humbling yourself down and allowing him to lead takes will and strength. It doesn’t mean he’s my boss. It means he’s my leader, and I trust and respect and come to him openly with my thoughts and ideas. Also, it means picking a good man, one who doesn’t view you as a daisy-duke wearin’, beer fetchin’, Friday night good time. (See any bro-country song for details.) I was able to say obey in my wedding vows because I know my husband will never “order” me to do anything that wouldn’t elevate me spiritually, physically, or emotionally. 
-I am pro-life. I do not believe in abortions. A woman’s right to choose means two things to me, the right to choose to have sex or not, or in cases when conception has already happened the right to choose to raise a child or make a plan for adoption. A woman’s right to choose does NOT mean a right to murder. That’s plain and simple.
-I do not think the fact that you are breast-feeding gives you the right to bare your chest for all to see. I believe in modesty. I do believe women should be able to breast-feed anywhere, but if she is unable to do so without exposing herself, she needs to go elsewhere, because let’s be honest, this is no longer about her right to mother/feed her child and the baby’s right to eat, it’s a prideful show of attention. 
-I am astounded that speaking against promiscuity is now referred to as “slut shaming.” Perhaps  one feels shamed because…wait for it… it IS shameful. 
-Man-hating is equally sexist. Just because a man broke your heart doesn’t give you the right to say all men are pigs. 

I could go on. I am old-fashioned in many ways, and clearly, I don’t fit the “progressive” ideal of a feminist. I do think I have a feminist side, though, and lately, I have felt that side stir in me. Today, it happened twice. First while reading about “bro-country” and again earlier. It got me thinking… What kind of message is this world sending to my daughter about what it means to be female? And frankly, I got kind of ticked.

Earlier, I was looking up some exercises (Jake and I are currently doing a 30 day squat challenge, which have my legs burning and aching and now I am cursing that blame Pinterest pin!) and I ended up on Women’s Health. Midways though the article, this pops up:

How lame is this? This pop up proclaims to have a plan to get me a “bikini body.” First off, what exactly constitutes a “bikini body” and how do I know if I actually have one or not? By who’s standards? Inevitably, I have to ask myself if think my body is a bikini body or not, therefore pushing me to judge my own body based on the standards I choose, which, keeping with my theme of being honest here, is going to be the social norm. You know, today’s socially-accepted ideal of a “bikini body.” Do I measure up? Heck no. Do most of us? Not at all! So now, we all need to type in our email and make Women’s Health some money while working our tail off on some half-baked exercise plan that may or may not actually deliver results, and will clearly not transform us into Hollywood starlets fit for a Victoria's Secret bikini.  

Stop this crap! 

One of my biggest goals this year has been body image. I don’t think it’s healthy to love fat. I am not going grab my jiggles and love them, and embrace a me that I don’t like. At the same time, you can’t hate yourself and succumb to the pressure that you are not ____ enough. I am not saying that this new trend of every-body-is-beautiful, body positivity is good or bad. In fact, I’m soooo glad that a lot of people are NOT giving into the society pressure that being thin is the only way to be happy and beautiful, when it is so not. I just don’t think that body positive movements that promote loving and accepting and beautifying extreme obesity is really productive, when if you are really loving your body, you will work hard to take the best care of it you can and keep it healthy as much as you can. For me, this dichotomy has met with me learning to run, to commit to a healthy, or active lifestyle while at the same time, learning not to be ashamed of my wide thighs, soft tummy, or size 14 dress. It’s not feeling embarrassment if the red stretch mark by my belly button shows while I sun on the beach. It’s a tough journey!

Do I have a “bikini body” yet? No. I might not ever. Might I wear one anyway? Maybe one day. But I still clicked “No thanks, I already have a bikini body” anyways, and smiled, because in reality, isn’t a bikini body just a body in a bikini? And as I clicked, I mentally flipped a feminist bird to Women’s Health. 

The same mental bird I’m flipping to the song writers in Nashville. 

Someday, I hope my daughter will know that she is powerful. She is smart. Being a girl should never limit her hopes and aspirations in her career nor her education. She is in charge of her body. She is also in charge of how she feels about it. Self-worth isn’t about your physical appeal, but your value as whole person, spiritually, socially, and emotionally-  it's embracing the unique way that God made you and created you before you were even born (Psalm 139:13-14) and being a good steward of the blessings He's given you, like a body and a mind, and taking care of them and loving them.


I’ve always said that if you really think about it, God was the first and ultimate feminist. 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Finally Summer.

I’ve sat to jot down my musings a few times this summer and only made it through a jumbled up paragraph of loosely connected thoughts before I discarded my draft and said oh well.  May and June have been a whirlwind and I think knotted and messy blog attempts clearly symbolized my brain’s state, and now July’s promise of relaxation is helping me untwist the kinks. 
I came back from work in April post miscarriage (number 4) stoic on the outside and broken on the inside, and my coworkers and kids were amazing at helping me jump back into living. As any teacher (or mother, dad, daughter, son, or spouse of a teacher) knows, April-May-June is a teacher marathon of testing prep, kids are suddenly, miraculously concerned about passing, there’s wonky schedules and end of year events, and spring fever and itches for summer. It usually wears me thin, drives me crazy- but this year it was exactly what I needed. I so needed busy-ness to make me live. So Jake and I took our trip to Chapel Hill, went to M’s awards day and chaperoned a field trip with her class to Linville Caverns, celebrated Mother’s Day, which didn’t shatter my heart too bad, saw my sister in law graduate college, and Mak and I took a little Spring Break get-a-way to Whitney’s and let Pawley’s waves clear our heads. We stopped and picked strawberries at a farm on the way home, and I made pie, then jumped straight into the mad dash of EOG testing preparations. Somewhere in all that, Makinzy got kicked by a horse at Nana’s (read: my nutty kid who knew ever ever go into the pasture alone went in -alone- and be-bopped behind a horse, and surprise, surprise) so that resulted in a 7 hour ER ordeal that we can use to embarrass her when she gets older. Thankfully, she passed, and we are so hoping that next year is the school year she finally realizes she is so capable of doing well- she just has to choose to succeed. So fun times all around. In the midst of this, I also interviewed for a teaching position close to home, and subsequently through myself into guilt for wanting to leave a school I loved.

I had lost about 5 pounds in the post-pregnancy de-bloating that usually happens when I miscarry, but this time, the timing and all of our getting-up and getting-out made me drop more than just the few pounds I usually lose, so I took it as a jump start on losing some weight and getting myself happier at least with my health and fitness level. I didn’t make a plan or set a goal or make it a “thing” we were doing, and I vehemently stood against doing any kind of program or the like. So I started using the myfitnesspal app to count my calories and challenged myself to get out to the track at least twice a week, and resolved to finish our church’s annual 5K in May. Well, this got Jake into it, and so the two of us began training ourselves to run, and we did. We didn’t beat anyone or have extraordinary times, but we did finish. And we were proud. With that accomplishment down, we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary with dinner at PF Changs (looove), a movie (The Fault in Our Stars- seriously one of the few (or only?) movie that was as good as if not better than the book itself) and gave each other FitBits to record our progress. Now, Jake is down about 15 pounds and I’m down around 25. And we’ve kept it up too. I see know when and where my occasional over-eating and occasional under-moving were colliding to make me gain/not lose weight, and having my caloric intake and outtake in front of me makes me so much more cognizant of my health. 

We ended the school year (so late this year, thanks to snow and delayed starting) with selfies and hugs, and I launched my 6th grade babies into the unknown world of 7th grade. That last week, I accepted a position with a new school, closer to home- and Jake and I can carpool!- and packed up my room. I still have to move it all (when, I’m not sure yet, but that’s going to be a jobbbbbb. And I’m working on learning the new subject area and curriculum I will be using, and fighting the fear and nerves of something new and wondering if I did the right thing. It’s so hard to leave when you're happy.

Immediately after the school year ended, we had to prep for teaching VBS, and we had a blast working with rising 6th graders again. The theme, Agency D3, was harder than years past, but I truly loved the depth of the message - Discover, Decide, and Defend. Giving a defense of your faith in Jesus Christ is an absolute must in our day and age, so I really liked how VBS turned out. Once all that was over, I finally relinquished myself into enjoying summertime, and I devoured a few books. We took a family trip to Franklin, NC for our annual gem mining fun and family reunion, and stuffed our faces with a big breakfast at the Dillard House in Georgia. We went camping at our favorite GA state park, Elijah Clark, and swam in the Clark Hill/Strom Thurmand lake, and I even wore a two piece again for the first time in many summers. I didn’t necessarily rock the two piece, but I embraced myself as I was and wore it anyways, and managed not to be too mortified. We got back in time to celebrate the 4th with our friends Jeremy and Ginger, and their son Colin, and watch fireworks and eat red, white, and blue parfaits with my parents that night. Now, we’re planning a South Mountain hiking trip before we have to pack it all up for our trip back down to Cape San Blas, and I am now finally enjoying the summer freedom I love. I love being able to throw stuff in the car and go make memories with Jake and Mak. I love our family memories and the fun we have together each summer. It's more and more my favorite season (sorry, autumn...). I can’t help but feel sad that this summer is so short, what with me ending later and Jake starting earlier as an administrator. 

Speaking of Jake, I am so proud of all he’s done and all he’s become. He’s rocked a fantastic GPA in grad school, started a podcast with Jeremy on fatherhood, and stood by me in this rebirth of mine since the last miscarriage. He and I talk so much about marriage, why others are crumbling around us - three couples we know just recently- and we are working so, so hard to guard our hearts from any crack in the foundation of us. He’s also been so open with me about the pain he experienced in our miscarriages too. I like to believe we can just keep trying, keep at it until it works and we have a miracle, that if it takes 10 or 20 loses before we make it, we can do it., but we both know that at some point, we are going to have to stop this and say no more, and quit letting our hearts fill up with joy just to break all over again. So we pray and ask God to show us direction in that. Let us know deep within that it’s time to stop trying. I know He will speak if that’s His will, so we will listen for Him. We have also found peace that if Makinzy is to be our one and only, then that's just fine. She is our biggest gift, our greatest surprise, our hardest challenge, and our most beautiful accomplishment.


So there’s your life update. I'm so grateful for the peace I've found, and the peace that continues to keep wrapping around me when I start to feel the grief or the anxiety crawl up my throat. We've had a good spring, and summertime is beautiful.





Friday, May 16, 2014

Friends, Sales, and Social Media.

I’ve “written” this blog post a thousand times in my head over the last few weeks and it’s finally bubbled out and made its way into typed sentences. It’s just got to be said. 

A whole lot of my friends are becoming “entrepreneurs” and “starting their own business” as of late. They are becoming consultants, distributors, and representatives. Lately, I feel like I log into Facebook and daily see a friend excitedly announce that they are proudly launching their new career. First of all, that’s great, and I wish them well. I know it’s hard these days. Jobs are hard to come by, and even when you have a good job, money is still tight. I get that. I admire that. Let me be clear. But I think people have to have some boundaries when it comes to these so called careers, and where they draw the line. It’s one of the reason the entire direct sales marketing concept makes me a little grossed out. It’s just too messy. It clogs up the friendship pipes and chokes out any communication I have with that person because everything now revolves around the product being sold. 
I know folks selling Origami Owl, It Works, Thirty-One, Tupperware, Jamberry, Younique, Avon, Mary Kay, AdvoCare, Herbalife, Pampered Chef, Plexus, Visalus, Partylite, Tastefully Simple, Premier Jewelry, Aloette, BeautiControl, Stampin’ Up, Pure Romance, Intitals, Inc., and Intitals Outfitters,  Scentsy, some snap on bag company, and there’s bra and jean companies too. Yeah, that’s a LOT.
Once you announce you’re now a distributor/consultant/whatever your company calls you, we do make a mental note that we can purchase those products from you. You don’t have to blast that fact out every single day. We know. I promise, if I suddenly decide I have to have whatever it is you're selling, and I simultaneously end up with an extra wad of cash to blow on that product, I will call you or message you. I promise. I’ll let you know. Stop asking. Stop reminding. Just stoppppppp. 
Also, please post more than just advertisements and business plugs. I am friends with you because we are.. wait for it.. friends! I care about what’s happening in your life and would like to see and hear about it. Likewise, being friends means I’d appreciate it when you care about mine, and when all you do is use my photos or updates as a chance to toss out how your product is exactly what I need, well, it comes off a bit selfish. I’d appreciate being seen as more than just a potential sale. And for the LOVE, stop telling me I need to host a party, or God forbid, sign up to sell something too. If that desire ever changes, once again, I’ll let you know, promise. 


I’ll close with this. First, dear friends, reach outside your friendship circles with your business, and know that if we need something, we’ll letcha know. Don’t let your entire identity be  all about your sales and the wonders of your amazing product. I miss your selfies and pics of your kids and your dinner time Instagram food shots, because guess what, I like you. Lastly, know that I hope your business succeeds. I hope it helps you pay down debt, work from home, have more flexible hours or whatever you signed on to accomplish. I really do. Thanks for hearing my plea and best of luck. :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy grief: The dichotomy.

I’ve noticed that I’m healing differently this time. Certainly, I’m gonna have a scar (metaphorically speaking) but I feel… better, I think? I do know taking the extended leave from work was one of the wisest decisions I made. I think it came to me in the parking lot after the ultrasound — I hate the finality of that…  the ultrasound… the one that ended it, that crushed our hearts — and before we even made it to the car, my mind was made up. I needed to be out of work. I wasn't going to get on with life and bury it. I tried that last time, and I almost landed in a dark oblivion.  I was going to take some time for me and for my family. And it has helped so much.

This past weekend, five days after surgery, Jake and I spent a day in Chapel Hill again for another one of his seminars for school (ironically- this must have been where we conceived last time- TMI, but important to understand the  emotional weight of the place. It’s a place where we’ve made happy memories together), and it was good to be back in a place feels okay. UNC’s campus was brimming with busyness — squirrels frolicking, pink and white dogwoods in full bloom, and college kids buzzing between classes in Keens and Vineyard Vines tees. I happily blended in while Jake attended his meeting, cozying up in the library after a healthy walk, then getting my nails done, window shopping on Franklin, and enjoying a salad for lunch. I would say time alone is dangerous, but not like this. Time alone at home in bed is dangerous. This is living again and seeing life continue. Without needing to explain anymore, I enjoyed the day. 

That afternoon, Jake and I ventured to a little town we had never heard of nearby to stay the night in a lovely B&B. The hotels were full in Chapel Hill and so our tardy attempt at reservations lead to having to go off the beaten path. And I’m so glad we did! The place was darling. And I told Jake that I actually went a full evening, laughing and smiling, and did not once think of my broken heart. Cuban food, bocci ball, history, art, and new friends. It was perfect.

Since I’ve been home, and now, a full week after surgery, I am mostly back to my normal self, so I have stayed busy. Planting tulips and giving my porch some love and subsequently spending the evenings there rocking, drinking copious amounts of hot tea and coffee, cooking and doing housework again, running errands, and just enjoying being a mother and a wife and daughter and alive.  I let her paint my nails. I didn’t fuss when they cut flips in the floor. I let her run outside and catch bees to put in her bug jar. I have just lived happily.

On Saturday we came home and picked up Makinzy and Bella, who are alway both a little more chubby and lazy and sticky after spending time with grandparents, and then on Sunday, my mom and I attended a women’s conference hosted by our church. It was on spiritual gifts. I bought the ticket a few weeks ago and had not even thought about it with all the other things rolling around in my brain. It was so good. Many women, of all ages and circumstances, gathered together for a delicious and dainty lunch, and throughout this time I found myself enveloped in hugs over and over. In the workshop portion of our conference, we worked through some testing similar to Myers-Brigg tests and my spiritual gifts were exhortation and mercy and my personality type was an unusual blend of three of the four categories. Solid-Expressive-Analytical. Meaning that I am 1.)  strong-minded, sincere, and warm. 2. talkative, social, and emotional, and 3.) a data-driven, detail-oriented, thinker, planner, perfectionist. Clearly, it was accurate. But couple this with my gifts- exhortation, lifting up others and encouraging them and mercy- empathy and love, and I feel a calling.

You see, back at school on my desk is a paper. A letter of intent for next year. And I’ve avoided it. An October baby was the perfect reason not to go back to work next year, so now, I felt a heaviness on me about my career. What do I do now? Jake and I have talked about it, prayed about it, and after the conference, I now feel a confidence. The amount I am actually bringing into our household is very small due to the gas it takes for me to travel to work. I am on the road so much. I spend so much time in my car, that I am cheating out my life as a mom and wife. My gifts of mercy and exhortation are poured out in the classroom, and by the time I get home, I am ready to collapse. I have nothing left for Makinzy, who needs more mercy that I have left to give most nights. So, I feel ready to make the jump. I am applying for a teaching job close to home. Where Makinzy can ride a bus to my school, where I will be surrounded by church family, and where I will spend 10 minutes commuting rather than an hour or more. And in that time, Jake and I will spend that salary paying down some medical debt, our vehicles, and adjusting to living off just his pay, so when I need to stay at home with a baby, it will be easier. And if a job doesn’t open up, I’ll do something local until then. I feel so relieved about this. So okay. I

It’s hard to say how the conference helped me work through all this, but it did. I guess it just reminded me of who I am and what God has called me to be. It has also opened up a door for a new Sunday School class which I am eager (I know, me? Eager for Sunday School!?) to go to. I have always felt like a black sheep in Sunday School because I don’t fit into the traditional class divisions. I was a teenager (youth group) planning a wedding, then a college student with a husband and a mortgage, and now I am a perpetually un-pregnant 26 year old mama to a 9 year old, hormone-ravaged little preteen with emotional baggage.  I have trouble relating to couples in coed classes, and I don’t think I can stand watching families grow as each week someone else in the class announces a new baby and then week by week grows before my eyes, reminding me visually of all the milestones we do not get to experience. It tempts me to envy and to be angry, and that’s not what I want or who I want to be. So the class I am hoping to visit, and maybe like, maybe love attending is one made up of women ages 30 (Gosh, how weird that I’m “close enough” now…) to 70-somehting. Full of marrieds, never marrieds, divorcees, those separated, those who are moms, and those who are not. A room full of wisdom. Of I’ve been theres. I think it’s a place where I can exhort and be exhorted. I am eager. 


To close, an accurate summary of my current place would be coexisting. In me right now, there is a coexistence of happiness and grief. Contentment and sorrow. Trepidation and confidence. I had no idea I could embody such a strange dichotomy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Heal.

Ways to heal a broken heart: A short list.

  • Take a time out on life. Work will be there 'til you retire. Use up your days. Don't worry about "if you need them" because you need them now. And if you don't get paid, remember you can't take money with you.
  • Cry. Whenever. Little Cry. Cute Cry. Ugly Cry. Nasty Cry.
  • Bake and eat and cook and treasure what yummy thing you've made. Then eat it with someone special. Bonus points for feeding a grateful crowd. Jake's grad class on Thursday really, really liked my lemon bars.
  • Let your little girl fall asleep in your arms. Better yet, fall asleep in hers.
  • Let Mama help. 
  • Write.
  • Visit with friends.
  • Take a trip. Getaways to special places that remind you of life's beauty.
  • Be anonymous. Go shopping, exploring, walking, and be alone in a crowd. Go to movie or a show, and just be a person. Not a sad person. Just a person.
  • Laugh. Let a belly laugh go and laugh until you wheeze. 
  • Find a library. Find a good book. Watch movies you've always wanted to see and escape to someone else's perspective for a little while. I might change how you see your own.
  • Say no. No, I can't help. No, I can't come. No, I won't. Sorry, but 100% of my energy is going to repairing my heart.
  • Watch nature. Sit under a tree. Channel Wordsworth, Frost, or Dickinson, and just be. 
  • Buy something new that makes you smile.
  • Make memories.
Most of all, keep living. Keep continuing to live in Him, in the beauty that He's made.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Hands and Feet

Sunday, our worship leaders almost changed the set list for me. Planned before our news, they had anticipated doing one of my favorite Christy Nockels songs, Waiting Here For You. If you don’t know know it, you should hear it. And in light of my last post, they knew, I have been waiting on God. To show up, to rescue, to explain. Something… The first verses say it so eloquently. I’m glad they didn’t change songs, because I think it was good to know others utter the same words, God, I am here, waiting on You to show me.

If faith can move the mountains
Let the mountains move
We come with expectation
Waiting here for You

You're the Lord of all creation
And still you know my heart
The Author of Salvation 
You've loved us from the start

Waiting here for You
With our hands lifted high in praise
And it's You we adore
Singing Alleluia

In my prayers for God to “show up,” I think I was asking some big old guy to come to me in my dreams in thunder and lightning and speak my name, tell me His plan, and wrap me in His arms. Perhaps a burning bush? An angel to say Behold and clarify that this was all in His mighty will for great things to come? I don’t know what I was thinking. 

Instead of Old Testament like visions, God has shown up, but in ways I did not even consider:

Like a dear friend driving for hours to sit with me at Panera and hear the horrible things I’ve thought and wished and felt. To hear the sad truths. And ready to tackle the stacks of maternity clothes if I couldn’t. 
Like a sweet offer from another friend to pamper me and let her do my hair. Because it’s how she shows love.
Like countless messages on Facebook from old high school friends, friends I haven’t seen since freshman year of college, friends of friends I barely know, all speaking words of encouragement, offering up prayer, and reminding me that I am strong enough to go through this.
Like my mama showing up to clean my house, armed with every cleaner and spray you can find.
Like ladies from church coming to love on me, armed with feel-better-goodies and hugs. Because that’s a southern girl’s way of saying I love you and I’m sorry.
Like deacons showing up to have a word of prayer with Jake, to hear his worries for me and his grief as a dad. To lift him up and encourage him.
It’s in the cards, the text, the calls. The gorgeous flower arrangements delivered to my door. It’s the prayers I feel around me.

I forget that we are not in the Promised Land. I forget that we don’t need to have God appear before us in some burning bush because He is WITHIN us. He’s not out in the clouds somewhere. HE IS HERE. In a way, I feel a little dumb. Bare with me - I’m gonna walk you through some scripture that woke me up today.
Throughout all of my miscarriages, the scripture that Jake and I wrote on all of our mirrors in expo marker, the verse I said over and over in my head each time I was wheeled into the operating room to rid my womb of a lifeless child, was Romans 8:28. It gave me hope, even when I didn’t understand. But silly me forgot to read the rest of the chapter. I’ve been reading Romans 8 for a long time with the eyes of mother whom was blessed by a child through the miracle of adoption and honed in on the verses 14-17: For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought
about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I can’t believe I have never thought about this from any other angle. I knew I was His child, but the part about sharing in Dad’s sufferings AND His glory missed me. 

I have also forgotten verse 10 and 11: But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin (or in my case, the death of my growing child- in other words, because we live in a fallen world, death still happens here), the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

The chapter goes on to remind us  “…that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us - man, I can’t imagine that - (verse 18)”  and that the Spirit helps us in our weakness (True story). We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (verse 26-27).

To conclude, since my surgery yesterday, I have realized that I don’t have to keep waiting for God appear before me and help. Yes, to understand and make sense of all of this, I will wait. Because I won’t get it until someday when I can finally claim my spot as His heir and child and receive that glory. But until then, His Spirit is here around me, and I see His hands and feet in the love of my brothers and sisters in Christ, in those who have picked up the shards of my life and have helped me begin gluing in all back together. 


So thanks, y’all. For showing me His love.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Aftermath

I read a lot. And during miscarriages, I seek out faith-based blogs on loss, particularly reoccurring miscarriage. I think it helps to know you are not the only one. Some doctors make miscarriage sound like the chicken pox. You get it- one and you're done. Met your statistical quota. Not that one hurts any less. But having 4 doesn't get any easier. So what about people like me? Well, according to the doctor, it's a sign of something wrong- either structurally (there's not) which is hard to fix, or hormonal, which is treatable. Then there's the little-understood area of auto-immune problems, which despite an initial diagnosis, isn't likely to be it for me either. The doctors say there is no medical reason I shouldn't sustain a pregnancy. Yet why? WHY? No answers, spiritually or medically, intensifies the pain.

In miscarriage blogs, you read statistics. You read treatment options. You read of trying again and of hope that you never experience the pain again. You rarely read of the aftermath. What happens after you hear those words, I'm sorry, m'am, but...

Here's my aftermath:
1. The phone call to family. For a while, Jake and I wanted to keep it to ourselves. With family, they are hurt, too. Grandmas and Pawpaws to be, aunts to be- families ache, too, and telling them is torture.
Worse, perhaps, ripping away the title of big sister away from a child, who isn't sure how to grieve.

2. Notifying the boss and all work-related folks. The plans to be out, and hoping the news is distributed appropriately so someone doesn't come up to you in three weeks and ask how the baby is. I might stare at them and say coldly, dead and in a lab somewhere, then burst into tears.

3. Planning the D&C. It's nauseating. Pre-registration. I know which nurses I'll see, the folks in the recovery room. The texture of the wallpaper in the pre-surgery holding room is already etched in my mind. I know what food and drink I'll have afterwords, and I'll likely be in the same room I've been in for the last three times. No one should know the operating room, the anesthesiologist, or the forms I'll sign in such detail.

4. The sympathy. It pours in. It helps. And it also helps 6 months later, when everyone else is holding babies and moved on and forgot that you are still damaged. Still aching.

5. Packing up maternity clothes and other baby things. Gosh, when people ask if they can do anything, I am tempted to say this. Go through my clothes and pull out the belly bands and button extenders, the flowy maternity tops that hid the bloat, the little pooch.  Get the crib, blankets, and diaper bag away. Get the ultrasound pics from the front pocket of my planner and delete them from my phone. Take them away. Go through my calendar and cancel appointments made in advance, white-out the weekly count on the calendar, and erase the heart around the due date. Please. I can't do it. I can't see it.

6. You have to clean the house. People will drop by. And you've wanted to do nothing but sleep for the past few weeks so everything is in need of a scrub. A cleaning service would be a nice sympathy gift, haha. That and a pedicure. Preferably before the D&C. Everyone will see you in all your naked glory anyways, might as well have nice toes. See numbers 3 and 4.  (Ironic Addendum- laundry piles are sorted and stacked messily in the living room and hall as I type, and we had a knock on the door before I even hit the post button on this blog. Sorry the house is a wreck. I am folding and packing away maternity clothes and trying not to yell and sob and stomp...)

7. Lastly, and most importantly, is the spiritual aftermath. Do you run to Him? Run away? Sit still and throw a tantrum? Confession: I tend to do the last one. I am hurt because He didn't answer me. While the ultrasound was happening, I was SCREAMING in my head "Abba, Father, I need you! ABBA, ABBA, ABBA, please fix this, make it better, help me, ABBA." Over and over and over and over. The entire time I yelled to Him from the depths of my heart and I heard nothing. And I'm not mad at God. I'm heartbroken. And I don't get why He didn't. I think of a little girl falling off her bike. Crying out for daddy as she topels over. He didn't catch her and stop the boo-boo from happening. Daddies don't stop life from hurting their girls. But Daddy does come to her, pick her up, clean her scraped knees, and kiss her and hold her until the tears stop. I am that little girl. I am still laying brokenhearted on the pavement, crying, scrapped skin stinging, and my Father Abba is coming. He's going to pick me up, and He will hold me.


So that's where I am. My current reality. I am crushed. Broken. Shattered. This sucks. But Abba is coming for His child and He will hold me.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Brokenhearted Prayers

I can’t say this time that I knew it, because I didn’t see it coming. Sure, I was nervous and worried, as I always am, but at my core, I wasn’t thinking this was how this pregnancy was going to go. 
Today, we went to the doctor (the specialist) for a routine ultrasound at 12 weeks. After much effort, neither the doctor and the ultrasound tech could find a heartbeat. Doppler was silent, and the baby appeared to have stopped growing between 8 and 9 weeks. At 12 weeks, the heartbeat should have been clear. The doctor was gentle and caring and honest. Despite the extensive testing we have done, he feels that there is no medical reason that I should not sustain a pregnancy, and as much as it stinks to hear, it looks like a fluke, especially now that I have taken aspirin to help with the potential blood disorders and that we had made so far with an established heartbeat. 

I immediately came back to work and set up taking a leave of absence, and tomorrow, I will head to my regular OB to plan out my D&C. Tonight, we shared the news with our devastated families, and we told Makinzy who is clearly hurting. My head aches, and I am emotionally drained. I am brokenhearted.

Pray for us.

Pray for me.

I am numb, and from experience I know that the days to come will be challenging to say the least, but my faith is strong. I know that He heard my prayers and father along, I’ll understand why He didn’t answer them as we had hoped. I don’t get it. I can’t pretend I understand now, or that I ever will this side of heaven. But I do know that He has not forsaken me, forgotten me, or abandoned me. 

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now”






Monday, March 10, 2014

Sanity

Springtime refreshes a lot a people. It pulls them out of the winter dull-drums and breathes into them a breath of new life. For me (and probably most teachers), springtime just makes me crazy. Middle School hormones (and they start to stink, literally), drama explodes, apathy abounds, and administrators are on your back 24/7 whispering "testing, testing, testing" in your ear as if you'd somehow forgot the looming date with destiny. It's all crap-ola, and it makes me crazy.

All this impending doom got me thinking about my sanity, and simplifying life.

I was scrolling through Pinterest ('cause it's, like, my favorite time filler while I'm waiting in line, waiting for a pot to boil, letting my nails dry, or any other split second of potential thumb-twiddling), I happened to notice a lot of make-me-crazy santity killers. For some reason, there seems to be this rampant idea of a super woman out there who does it all.
There's the Super Teacher boards full of colorful, organized, label-bedazzled anchor charts, Common Core aligned feel-goody lessons done in a color-coded, label-bedazzled binder, and holiday/theme related encouraging treats handmade and waiting on doe-eye pupils to take them, look up and smile with gratitude at Ms. Super Teacher.
Then there's Super Wife boards where Super Wife turns all of her husband's yellow necked shirts into precious smocks for their children (who's birth times are proudly displayed on the wall with sentimental clocks stopped at that precise moment), decorates and organizes their bedroom until it becomes a haven of comfort and sophistication. Super Wife is also Super Mom, who makes everything at home to save her family from the Chemical Monsters lurking in household cleaners, laundry soap, shampoo, and even the coffee creamer. She makes her children's clothing, or orders them from posh boutiques, and fills mundane rainy days with homemade chemical free finger paint, recyclable crafts, and indoor games from "up-cycled" household items.
All this while preparing gluten-free paleo clean-eating from-scratch gourmet made-ahead freezer to crockpot meals that cost her less than 2 dollars a person.
And don't forget mom's stylish ombre hair is in beachy no-heat waves, and she made sure she went to the gym where she is decreasing the size of her thighs and tummy and increasing her boobs and booty.

I know. I am being cynical, and I'm not going on any rant that hasn't been ranted before, and I know Pinterest is also what you make of it. In all reality, I get tons of great ideas there, and many of them get implemented eventually. Hence why I enjoy the scrolling! But there is a real pressure out there on us that isn't just confined to pages of Pinterest. And I'm tired of being over-stretched, over-worked, under-paid, exhausted and still feeling crappy because I get my toiletries from the Walgreens clearance rack and my groceries from Ingles based on whatever is on sale, and I haven't had time for the gym in who knows how long because I barely see my kid and hubby on weekdays as it is.

With all that being said, the expectations out there on pregnancy and birth beat all I've ever seen. There was once a time in my life when I would have been that go-all-out type, but I like to think I've gained some wisdom from my (few) years of motherhood, teacher-dom, wifey-ness.
First of all, there's the announcement to the hubby. Spectacular and sentimental. Me? I pee on a stick while he waits.  Then it's made public. The announcement? It's cute, over-the-top in adorable-ness, and carefully planned and announced a calculated time. There's the belly pics in perfect succession, hand-lettered chalkboards chronicling the mom to be's cravings and baby growth. Then there's the mega-themed gender reveals. Bows or ties, mustaches or pigtails, surprise cake flavors. The diaper parties and dad to be bashes, designer nurseries, and multiple maternity pic sessions. Don't forget the day of birth photo session, monthly pics with the same outfit in the same place. Clearly, I could go on.

But this is where I quit. I'm not doing all of this. I'm not going to spend my days living up to some expectation of doing everything, and doing it all big.
I want a simple life, with time for my family. Time to relax. And if that means Hamburger Helper, Tide, and Tressemme, and cellphone baby pics, then so be it.

The next 9 or so months might be even more exhausting for me, and I'm going to spend every spare minute propping up my feet and not worrying about being super anything other than super in love with my family.

My sanity is way too important than filling up my social media with how super I am.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

In case you missed it...

Yep. Finally! In case you missed the news on our social media pages, it is finally done! Finalized! 


We are estatic! We are overjoyed! I'm so grateful for all our praying friends for supporting us on this crazy, awesome, wonderful adventure!